random thoughts on some Author C. Clarke quote

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random thoughts on some Author C. Clarke quote

Postby TerraFrost » Sun Mar 23, 2003 9:19 am

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -- Arthur C. Clarke

this, and another form of this quote that goes something like "any sufficiently advanced race is indisnguishable from being a god" are two quotes which i have recently concluded i don't like, mainly because they sorta imply that there is no such thing as magic, and there is no such thing as god. i don't know about you, but i find that rather presumptious.

i think a better form of this concept can be borrowed from mathematics, ironically enough. in mathematics, there is the concept of relative primes - 15 and 8 are relative primes, for example, because between them, there are no common divisors. that doesn't mean, however, that 8 is a prime, because 2 and 4 *do* divide into it, all the same. by the same token, the number 3 isn't a relative prime - it actually *is* a prime.

now, to tie this back into those quotes...

i think they should be rewritten to sometihng like this:
""Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from relative magic." -- Arthur C. Clarke

this way, people wouldn't get confussed when you were talking about a *god* and not some aliens that could be *seen* as a god. :)
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Postby Nuxius » Mon Mar 24, 2003 10:02 am

mainly because they sorta imply that there is no such thing as magic, and there is no such thing as god
I have no idea where you got that conclusion from.

It's like with some fake Rolexes, they're virtually indistinguishable to the real thing by all but a professional jewler. Also, I know of several instances where appraisers have been totally fooled by fake antiques.

There was also, back in the late 80's I think, the story where some grave robbers robbed a grave of some Cival War vet, and they dumped the body somewhere else. The body was wonderfully preserved, so when the forensic scientist got there, he incorrectly stated the body was only dead for about a week. Little did he know how wrong he was (and he later went to form "The Body Farm").

In all instances, the people would tell you that "It was indistinguishable from the real thing/whatever it was thought to be." But that does not imply at all that there are no such things as real Rolexes, real antiques, are that no one died during the Cival War.

So what you're saying really has no merit, you're trying to take something that isn't even there.



Maybe a better way to word it would be "Any sufficiently advanced technology is virtually indistinguishable from magic."
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Postby Dracofrost » Mon Mar 24, 2003 10:14 am

Not if it's sufficiently advanced enough to hide any discrepancies between it and the real thing :lila
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Postby TerraFrost » Mon Mar 24, 2003 3:59 pm

well, the real thing that sorta first annoyed me about those quotes was when i was in a debate with someone a while ago, and was debating god... someone came along and said... ooh! this could be an advanced alien race! which was kinda annoying, because... we were debating the origins of god, and i was talking about god god - not some dumb alien race playing god. if god is omnipitant that he would have the power to create himself, but... if he came into being (and wasn't eternal), then... he wouldn't really have the power to create himself... unless he already existed, which he doesn't, and bah....

so... i guess i agree with you noxious :)

what would be more to the point i was trying to make would be... they've let the meaning of god become convuluted... sometimes when you're talking about, you're really talking about god... not about some petty alien race that looks like god...
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Postby Nuxius » Tue Mar 25, 2003 7:59 am

Actually I don't think they were out of line at all... the problem comes more from your misuse of the word god.

From what you are saying you were meaning to refer to God (note the capital G),as in the Christan god, Lord, etc. instead of god ("a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship" source Webster's Dict).

An alien race could very well be gods, much like the gods the Egyptians worshipped back in the day.

Stargate SG1 (IMO the best Sci-Fi show on TV today) focuses heavily around these aspects.
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Postby TerraFrost » Tue Mar 25, 2003 3:11 pm

well... i wasn't using a capital G in my posts then, nor am I now :lila:

although that may have been where the conversation was intended to go - the christian god, not a more generic one.

and yes... i am well aware that sufficiently advanced aliens can be worshipped as gods, but... characteristics that apply to a "real" god will probably not apply to them in that case - ie. aliens aren't gonna be the ones who are eternal - the "real" god is. not that we'd ever know that, so from our *perspective* they might be gods, but being gods by perspective and being gods in reality are really two different things, as i'm trying to make clear with my propposed ammendment to the author c. clarke quote :)
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Postby Dracofrost » Tue Mar 25, 2003 8:54 pm

But who's to say that it is in fact uber high tech aliens who could not only be worshipped as gods but also be the creators of the planet earth and all life upon it, an action usually attributed to the chrstian god? Say, some sort of refined Genisis weapon that actually works? And is it not inconcievable that such aliens would be advanced enough so as to not die of old age, and in that sense be eternal? That any sense of the christian god, talking into people, is just advanced alien technology inputting knowledge directly into that brain? Who's to say that the christian god actually does exist, but not as we percieve him, but as some kid with a really big science project? :lila

Sorry, I just have to come up with weird ideas like that.
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Postby TerraFrost » Tue Mar 25, 2003 9:11 pm

the christian god may or may not exist. but if a *real* god exists, he is timeless. not timeless as in he doesn't age, but timeless as in there was never a time he wasn't around - he would have to transcend time. i mean, one of the words that is often used to describe any sort of god is omnipotence, meaning "all-powerful", which includes the power to create himself. if there was a point in time when he didn't exist, then he would not have the power, in that time, to create himself. however... god is "all-powerful", so... god should be able to create himself there. so... the only other possibility is that not only does god go infinitly foward in time (ie. age, or whatever), but he goes infinitly backwards (ie. well... sorta like growing younger, heh).

second, god (or gods, as the case may be) is really the only being which can transcend time as i've described. if aliens could exist that god did not create, that would sorta suggest that there was a power beyond god... in which case, god wouldn't be "all-powerful" because he's less poweful than sometihng else, in which case he wouldn't be god...
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Postby Nuxius » Thu Mar 27, 2003 9:49 am

but if a *real* god exists, he is timeless. not timeless as in he doesn't age, but timeless as in there was never a time he wasn't around - he would have to transcend time.
Not necessarily. A god does not have to be timeless in order to be a god.

i mean, one of the words that is often used to describe any sort of god is omnipotence, meaning "all-powerful", which includes the power to create himself.
Actually, that's usually only applied to God, or Allah, or whoever a religon thinks is the "ultimate god", a.k.a. creator of all gods, spirits, beings, aliens, animals, basically life in general, be it currently occuping a part of our plane of existence or not.
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Postby TerraFrost » Thu Mar 27, 2003 4:49 pm

Not necessarily. A god does not have to be timeless in order to be a god.


well, taken with your other point (which is actually a really good point, hehe), i can see the truth in this, but...

an "ultimate god" would have to be timeless, in order to be all powerful, lest it lack the power to create itself at any point in time, in which case, it isn't all powerful.
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Postby Evlfrost » Thu Mar 27, 2003 5:49 pm

Question: What is 'god'? I would like someone to define that before you go and say what he can and cant do.
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Postby Gigafrost » Thu Mar 27, 2003 6:12 pm

Well, just for starters, here's what webster says about the word:

1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshiped as creator and ruler of the universe b Christian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind
2 : a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality
3 : a person or thing of supreme value
4 : a powerful ruler

I'm not particular to just accepting dictionary definitions of words, but in this case I'd say that I'd agree that #1 and #2 are definately things I used, while for #3 and #4 I'd simply refer to them as a god simply out of...something...

But, I'd say this would make the debate\talk\thoughts go smoother, as we can then attack each individual thought on god.

So, it appears that Terra's been trying to analyze the first definition of god...the other three are too vague to be analyzed this way, no?
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Postby Evlfrost » Thu Mar 27, 2003 6:41 pm

Well it would seem that the first definition is 'God' refering to a single omnipotent being like the judeo-christion god. The second is refering to a limited god like the many gods that are in mythologies. The third one appears to be an 'idol' and the last one would be refering to how the roman emporers protrayed themselves.
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Postby TerraFrost » Fri Mar 28, 2003 3:49 am

well... i think god has become convulted with the term supreme being, and so when most people say god, lower cased, they mean 1, even though technically, the only religions which may believe in that may be abrahamic religions...
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Postby Nuxius » Fri Mar 28, 2003 8:24 am

Actually I was never trying to attack anyone's definition on God/god/whatever per say.

I was just mearly saying that I don't think the people Terra was talking about were refering to the same context of god that he was.

As far as what he has said about the "supreme" god, or whatever the heck you want to call it, I pretty much agree with everything he has said.
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